Focus on sustainable tourism

Fiji continues to dominate in tourism, recording the highest number of arrivals in the South Pacific region with a 36.9 per cent market share in the March Quarter of 2018.

TOURIST arrivals in the Pacific are estimated to grow by 3 per cent annually with doubled arrivals pegged at 3 million by 2040 by the World Bank.

In terms of economic contribution, the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) has forecasted tourism to contribute about $US4.9 billion by 2019 and creating an additional 127,600 jobs to the region by 2040.

While this presents a myriad of economic growth opportunities, it has raised the need for a more sustainable tourism industry in the region.

A recent media round table discussion facilitated by SPTO in Suva focused on sustainable tourism discussed ways in which the region can better accommodate these unprecedented arrivals.

According to the statistics from SPTO, Pacific air arrivals have grown from 1.7m in 2012 to 2.1m in 2017.

This is an average annual growth of 3.3 per cent over the past six years (2012-2017) in the region.

An extra million are cruise visitors to the Pacific estimated over the period.

Speaking at the event, SPTO marketing manager Alisi Lutu underscored the importance of sustainable tourism in protecting the Pacific’s “greatest assets” – our land, oceans, people and culture or the Blue Pacific identity.

“We lose these key assets, we do not have tourism,” Ms Lutu stressed.

“Our diverse Culture differentiates us from the rest of the world.”

With the dawn of culture tourism and other niche tourism products in the Pacific such as cruise tourism, Ms Lutu said there was a “huge gap” in communicating focussed messages of sustainable tourism to audiences.

“Concept of sustainable tourism is fairly new to the Pacific, though it has been in existence or practised in some shape or form,” Ms Lutu said.

“Compared with the current buzzword ‘climate change’, sustainable tourism is not fully understood – from the average Pacific Islander, tourism actors, government decision makers and to the traveling visitor.

“Work in the area of sustainable tourism development has been active in delivering regional initiatives to the Pacific, past three years.

“But there is a huge gap in communicating focused messaging to audiences (local, regional, global) to improve understanding, relatability, practicability, adoption and ownership for and by all stakeholders -to protect and conserve our islands, oceans, people, culture and industry.”

Ms Lutu highlighted the need for help, advice and professional expertise in this area.

And in seeking to better strategically and successfully communicate sustainable tourism to all audiences; it has forged a partnership with the media/ social media influencers foremost in Fiji.

The discussions saw a draft messaging guideline being formulated around three pillars of sustainable tourism.

Practically speaking, the discussions highlighted how mainstream media could better communicate the message of sustainable tourism through the various means to their audiences.

These are:
– economic Sustainability -t ourism businesses and private sector continue to prosper financially;
– environmental Sustainability – tourism development does not impact negatively on our natural and built environment; and
– socio-cultural Sustainability -tourism is developed with a people-centred focus whose cultural values and traditions are both shared and safeguarded.

The first session will be part of SPTO’s roundtable series which will focus on building relationships with Fijian and regional media counterparts on various priority matters and topics related to tourism development in the Pacific Islands.

“Sustainable tourism is a new concept for the South Pacific and the media plays a fundamental role in helping us propagate the message to all stakeholders as awareness is key to advocacy” SPTO chief executive officer Chris Cocker said.

“As of January 2018, according to Hootesuite, Fiji has 500,000 social media users, that’s 55 per cent of our population and 470,000 of those social media users access social media platforms via mobile phones.

“That’s 52 per cent of our population that you have direct access to and our social influencers play a vital role in helping SPTO tap into that market with our sustainable tourism messaging,” Mr Cocker said.

SPTO has also taken a first step in better communicating in launching a special website on sustainable tourism.

This complements the new division within

This will be launched today coinciding with ‘World Tourism Day’ on the theme of ‘Tourism and the Digital Transformation’.

“SPTO recognises the growing digital space in the Pacific and is tapping into innovative ways to advocate for sustainable tourism,” Mr Cocker added. <ct:Bold>

More Stories